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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Smart Moves

When I was 14, I got braces on my teeth for the first time. And they weren't the tiny ones that glue onto the front of your teeth; they were the big ugly ones that wrapped all the way around each tooth and literally had to be hammered on. And I had to wear those things for over three years. (They are even in my senior picture!) My teeth were in pretty bad shape, but by the time the braces came off I had a great smile I was proud of.

So now, some 35 40 years later, I've noticed how much my teeth have moved, especially in the front. One of my two front teeth has moved forward, and through the years has continued to protrude farther out. My bottom teeth have also crowded up and protrude out, which is pushing the top front tooth out. My husband is not much into details, but even he has even noticed how much my smile has changed.

I usually don't think twice about doing things for myself such as hair appointments, massages, and pedicures, but having my teeth done again was not something I'd thought seriously about until a couple of months ago. Since we don't have orthodontic insurance, it would be an out-of-pocket expense. So I started adding up the cost of those pedicures and massages (!) and thought, since it's an issue that's only going to get worse, that money would be better spent investing in my teeth.

Since I've already had the metal kind, I thought Invisalign would be the way to go. (I was willing to go for the tiny metal ones if the cost was unreasonable.) After doing some research online, I called my dentist's office before moving forward. I trust them, and wanted their opinion on how I should proceed, and to also get a referral for an orthodontist they recommend.

As it turns out, their office offers a new procedure called Smart Moves. It's like Invisalign, but not as intensive or costly. It's mainly for straightening anterior (front) teeth, and like Invisalign, not appropriate for everyone. Since my issues are mostly in the front, I was hoping I'd be a good candidate. After a consultation and finding out this procedure would work for me, and then finding out that the cost is at least half of what Invisalign would have been, I felt like this was the way to go.

After impressions of my teeth and then a couple of weeks for the lab to make my aligners, I returned to my dentist to be fitted. He had to file some space in between a few teeth to give them room to move, which was mostly pressure and not too bad. After that, they popped right in and here's what they look like:



They do take some getting used to. The first set is called a "hard-soft" material. I slur a little when I talk, and my tongue and sides of mouth are a bit raw in places from some sharp edges. I've been more self conscious about them than I thought I would be. I feel the need to explain, especially when I'm talking directly to someone.

After the first day, I felt my teeth moving. I'll get my next set of aligners in 2 1/2 weeks, which will be made of a harder material. I'll get a new set every two to three weeks after that for six months, and my dentist guarantees my satisfaction, which is reassuring.

An added benefit will hopefully be some weight loss. With these in my mouth I'm less likely to mindlessly snack, and I'm mostly drinking water because I have to take them out to drink anything else or to eat.

I've been getting up in the morning and taking them out and leaving them out until after my coffee, giving my mouth a bit of a break, and then brushing and putting them back in. Overall, I'm wearing them at least 22 hours per day. They are not hard to keep clean. Toothpaste is abrasive, so I'm just using warm water and a toothbrush in the morning and at night, and I take them out several times a day to refresh with cold water and pop back in.

Wish me luck! Stay tuned for updates and more progress photos...